With an aim to share some key insights into the social sector and have a conversation with young budding Social Entrepreneurs, MASH Project and Ashoka jointly organized ‘Coffee & Conversations on Social Entrepreneurship’ on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 from 2pm to 4pm in Jamia Milia Islamia.
The special guests of the event included Mr. Yashveer Singh, Director, Ashoka’s Youth Venture and Mr. Ajit Singh, Founder, Anant Learning and Development Pvt. Ltd. and an Ashoka Fellow.
Yashveer sir started the conversation by telling us how we need to understand the concept of ‘need versus demand’ and also told us how the social sector demands a change in our perception. How we react to problems must create a positive environment. Mindset about the problem must be changed.
We then discussed the importance of change-makers’ skills, some of which includes providing direct service and scaling up after being sustainable.
We then invited Ajit sir, who emphatically talked about the struggles of being a social entrepreneur. He explained how we get so distracted by the term ‘social service’ that we completely ignore the importance of funds. It is high time we accept that every sector needs support to grow, be it in monetary terms or non-monetary terms. In a debate on profit versus not-for-profit, he personally feels that NGOs are dependent on people for grants and we don’t even get the freedom to invest it the way we want to. If we approach government for the same, they demand quick results or ask for a proof on revenue generated and this shifts our focus from social work to revenue generation. The initial basic idea of doing something for the society gets disturbed.
Ajit sir shared how travelling helped him analyze this sector. He says that we should ask the end users about skill development because we need to figure out what happens with the students once the training session is over. Ajit sir concluded by saying that we can work in any sector we want, as long as it is creating an impact because we should create a movement and not just run a business model.
This session taught us that we should keep evolving our ideas. A heartfelt thanks to Yashveer sir and Ajit sir for your ideas sparked a lively debate among all of those in attendance.
~ Shambhavi Tiwari